Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (Book Review)

30/05/2012 § Leave a comment

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During the brutal 1942 roundup of Jews in Paris Sarah, naively believing her absence to be temporary, locks her brother in a secret hideaway. Her plight to return to him intersperses the story of Julia, an American journalist living in the modern day capital. Tasked with writing a commemorative piece for the 60th anniversary of the roundup, Julia discovers a connection with the past that threatens to unravel her present. Sarah’s mournful and affecting narrative is thrown into stark contract by Julia’s melodramatic and tedious story, leaving the reader wishing the 1940’s tale wasn’t diluted by an unnecessary dual narrative.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages by Tom Holt (Book Review)

20/04/2012 § Leave a comment

Polly, a fundamentally average lawyer, and her brother, a profoundly lazy musician, are embroiled in a catalogue of transdimentional cock-ups, which begin with a missing pig and escalate into perpetual time loops, teleporting dry-cleaners and a group of chickens with a serious identity crisis. But it’ll all be fine, provided nobody mentions the ‘M’ word. A chaotic plot where the emphasis of jokes leans towards quantity not quality evolves into a cleverly ridiculous piece of good fun writing. Holt may be a poor man’s Douglas Adams, but a shadow of the Hitchhiker’s Guide still makes for a pretty entertaining read.

Before I go to sleep by SJ Watson (Book Review)

09/03/2012 § Leave a comment

Chrissie is unable to hold onto her memories as she sleeps. She is forced to trust the devoted stranger she wakes up to every morning, who tells of a terrible accident that robbed her of her history. That is, until Chrissie begins to keep a secret journal, the truths of which slowly unravel her fragile and transient existence, seeming to reveal everyone as dishonest and unfamiliar, including herself. An intriguing concept is subsumed by the necessarily repetitive narrative, which Watson fails to overcome. The anticipatory nature of the plot is dampened by consistent predictability making this a rather bland and feeble read.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Book Review)

29/01/2012 § 1 Comment

Sixteen year old Jacob has long ceased believing his manic Grandfather’s farfetched tales about a childhood spent with ‘peculiar children’ and hunted by monstrous beings. But a traumatic experience has Jacob questioning his own sanity, and whether there was in fact some truth behind the old man’s fictions. Punctuated with genuine, thought provoking photographs, this novel has a unique pulling power. Unfortunately the story’s substance fails to equal the eerie intrigue or excitement that its images suggest, with an inconsistent narrative voice hindering the characterisation of its central figure. Peculiar children is an overly ambitious children’s novel, which unfortunately fails to translate for an adult audience.

Sherlock Holmes – The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Book Review)

05/01/2012 § 1 Comment

Watson, after the death of his beloved companion Sherlock Holmes, sets out to recount one of his early ventures with the most famous of detectives; one too monstrous to be released to a contemporaneous audience. It’s abundantly clear why The House of Silk was officially approved by the Conan Doyle estate. Horowitz has succeeded in capturing the essence of Homes and the narrative style of Watson to create an entirely original adventure. Horowitz satisfies modern bloodlust with controversy unthinkable to Conan Doyle, but remains faithful to the original characters and style. This novel is impeccably researched and a cracking mystery.

Malice in Blunderland by Jonny Gibbings (Book Review)

15/12/2011 § 3 Comments

After being surreptitiously dumped Gibbings’ protagonist life goes on an asphyxiated downward spiral, with cataclysmic results. Being blackmailed by the mafia and wanted for sex crimes isn’t even the worst of it. No, a week in the life of this loser would have James Frey running for cover. Malice in Blunderland, like many of life’s pleasures, should come with a health warning. Crossing the proverbial ‘line’ more than once, it will have you stifling laughter before guiltily glancing around to make sure no-one is reading over your shoulder. Wonderfully sardonic and intelligent writing with which Guy Ritchie would have a field day.

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose (Book Review)

13/12/2011 § Leave a comment

Jac is struggling to supress mental health problems and save her ancestral perfumery from bankruptcy. But when her brother uncovers a familial artefact that may be the saviour of controversial Tibetan beliefs in reincarnation, Jac’s precarious sanity is put to the test by cryptic clues, murder and a reunion with a long lost love. The bizarre plot is not adequately addressed by even the supposedly sceptical characters. However, the mysteries that the reincarnation catalyst ignites are entertaining; enhanced throughout by Jac’s bittersweet romance.  The Book of Lost Fragrances whiffs of intoxicating insanity comparable to Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Book Review)

28/11/2011 § 1 Comment

Aomame, a feminist assassin, and Tengo, an aspiring author, are bound together by fate within 1984’s alternate reality; 1Q84. In this world their lives become dominated by a cult and the quirky and intoxicating teenager who has escaped it with a story to tell. Murakami’s deadpan writing style insists on minimal descriptions of an unfamiliar environment and is overwhelmed by character’s speech and thought, which is often patronisingly simplistic and repetitive. Disconcerting sexual forays and unrewardingly bizarre fantastic elements make this lengthy, long winded novel an un-enjoyable read. 1Q84’s omnipresent “Little People” simply don’t measure up to Orwell’s “Big Brother”.

Pets in a Pickle by Malcolm Welshman (Book Review)

22/09/2011 § 1 Comment

Join Paul Mitchell, a newly qualified vet, as he embarks upon his first job at Prospect House Veterinary Hospital. Along the way you will meet a multitude of hilarious and bizarre characters with afflictions including baldness, bites and obesity. And that’s not just the animals. Pets in a Pickle is a light-hearted romp that will certainly appeal to animal lovers and provide some genuine laugh out loud moments. Welshman has Paul’s veterinary experiences play out as pun-tastic thematic comedy sketches. The wordplay may be a little cringey at times, but that’s all part of the light hearted and frivolous fun.

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso (Book Review)

05/09/2011 § Leave a comment

This memoir of child abuse that doubles up as a deranged love story begins when Margaux was 7 and her molester, Peter, was 51. The writing style is tainted by the victim’s own numbness and detachment, resulting in some inelegant over-narration. This instils the intrusive sense of reading someone else’s diary. Tiger, Tiger is an education in child maltreatment and manipulation that is perversely engaging despite, or perhaps because of, some moments that are truly difficult to read. Purposefully controversialist, this book is worth the few hours it takes to read for those whose curiosity gets the better of them.

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